Vive La Republique…

 

republique main dining

I had a luscious blind date with a much younger Francophile. We were introduced through social media and decided to rendezvous last Friday evening.

This was one of the best fix ups I have ever encountered. Bienvenue a Republique Restaurant.

The restaurant is physically attractive and the ambiance is seductive…if I wasn’t already married it would be the perfect place to stage a nuptial and after party with amazing food and wine.

Republique instigates a bit of a food revolution, blending classic french bistro with California cuisine.

White Salad
White Salad

We settled down at the communal table and kicked the meal off with a white salad consisting of cauliflower, endive, fennel, parmesan, Meyer lemon in a le blanc hazelnut oil. It was one of the best salads I have ever eaten and the citrus beautifully enhanced the salad.

We matched it up with a wonderful red Chateau d’Oupia, Minervois 2011 from Languedoc. We are enamored with wines from the Langedoc region since intimately hooking up with the wines in France in November. I highly recommend this full bodied red with a bold intro and wonderful finish.  Of note, the sommelier amends the wine list daily.

We shared our first date with others at a communal table in a setting that felt church like…soaring ceiling, arched windows, a nave, in addition to 3 separate cooking areas.

Adrienne, our knowledgeable and personable server, guided us astutely through the extensive menu, hitting the mark with every, single recommendation.

Adrienne was a great accompaniment to our meal and we loved her Midwestern sensibility and sense of style. She is a huge Alexander McQueen fan and we bonded over my McQueen knuckle bag that dined with us and  our mutual admiration for the Metropolitan Museum’s McQueen exhibit last year in NYC.

The evening was initiated by the wait staff who gallantly passed around delicious homemade crispy cheese breadsticks that were presented in a tall vessel.

Uni with Soft-Scrambled Eggs
Uni with Soft-Scrambled Eggs

As if it was food from an elegant after prom, we ordered eggs on toast ($16) which was soft-scrambled eggs, crowned with delicious, creamy Santa Barbara uni…amazing.

Other hors d’oeuvres featured were sea scallop with uni, blood orange and black truffle ($32 )and hamachi crudo with pineapple, fresh Fresno chili and cilantro ($19).

Grass fed beef tartare with tarragon aioli, pickled red onion and potato chips ($18) and escargots en croute ($12) with garlic and parsley were also highly recommended.

bread republique

Ever since experiencing a bread course at Restaurant Viajante outside of London, I have been intrigued when he appears on menus. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with bread and butter and decided that tonight was the night to cheat on my steady diet of protein and vegetables.

Since the chef’s wife is the pastry chef and bakes a plethora of fresh breads daily, we ordered the artisan breads (honey rye, pain au levain and multigrain $3). Try the wood oven pan drippings for $5 as an accompaniment…just like in grandma’s kitchen.

The Republique complimentary warm baguette and butter is delicious enough on its’ own…crispy and crunchy. I shed a tear for my bread head days in Paris.

Cheese Course
Cheese Course

Since we ordered the breads, we selected three cheeses as a great pairing…a savory pecorinio Folgie di Noci, raw sheep’s milk from Italy, La Peral, cow and sheep’s milk from Spain and Taleggio ‘Il Caravaggio” which is cow’s milk cheese from Italy (3 for $18).

Butternut Squash Agnolotti

Butternut Squash Agnolotti

We shifted gastronomical geographies and dipped into an Italian influenced pasta of butternut squash agnolotti with hedgehog mushrooms, parmigiano reggiano and butter ($18), light and heavenly. There were 6 other pastas to choose from on the menu.

We skipped the main course as the man in my life does not indulge in meats. There was a huge variety to choose from including: duck leg confit, pig’s head, rotisserie chicken, pork chop and belly, lamb blade steak, braised beef short rib, as well as steak and fries.

The fish offerings were a whole Branzino, Dover sole and mussels.

Croissant Bread Pudding
Croissant Bread Pudding

Dessert was a difficult choice between panna cotta, tarts, bomboloni, salted caramel chocolate cake and our further descent into carb hell, the made to order croissant bread pudding with vanilla ice cream.

It was served piping hot in a cast iron pan, crispy on the top and oh so delicious…not sweet, just right ($10). The croissants are made the day before and are perfect for baking the next day.

Chef Walter Manzke has become one of the strongest culinary forces in California. He worked for high-profile chefs like Alain Ducasse, Joachim Splichal of the Patina Group, and world renown el Bulli chef, Ferran Adria before opening restaurants in Carmel with chef-wife Margarita Manzke.

Margarita, who was born and raised in the Philippines, met Chef Walter in Los Angeles when both worked at Patina. Margarita graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and also worked at the original Spago.

The couple settled in Los Angeles, and Manzke helmed the kitchens at Bastide and the popular Church & State restaurant. In the past two years, they have opened two Wildflour Cafe and Bakery branches with family in Manila, the Petty Cash Taqueria in Los Angeles and Republique, which they partnered with restaurateur, Bill Chait.

Chefs Walter & Marge Manzke
Chefs Walter & Margarita Manzke

Republique is located in the former Campanile space. It was a night to remember.

Please note that a 3% charge is added to each check to ensure health and medical benefits for the staff.

Republique 624 South La Brea, Holloywood. Valet parking $6.50, reservations suggested. Cafe hours are 6am-3pm Monday-Saturday . Bistro hours are Monday-Wednesday 6-10pm and Thursday-Saturday 6-11pm. republiquela.com.

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